Tag Archives: Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary

2019 Hutch Clean Up Report

HRRP Clean Up Site Map

Map of Clean Up Sites [click on image to enlarge]

We had a good turn out for the HRRP Annual Clean Up last Sunday. The weather was with us the entire day.

We had around 40 volunteers, some of who went out in canoes to the clean up sites and others who cleaned up the launching area stretch from the bridge toward Eastchester Bay.

We were joined this year by volunteers from Boy Scout Troop 109 of Mt. Vernon, a local Brownie Troop, and for the third year, a group from the Boys and Girls Club of Mt. Vernon.

Everyone who participated in the Clean Up received a special 10th anniversary button.

We didn’t collect as much as last year but volunteers reported that the sites didn’t have as much to clean up. We’ll be filing our clean up reports to the Ocean Conservancy and to the American Littoral Society. Here’s an inventory of what the reports will contain :

20 Cigarette butts
180 food wrappers
180 plastic bottle caps
50 metal bottle caps
80 plastic lids
60 plastic straws / stirrers
180 plastic knives, forks, spoons
504 plastic beverage bottles
90 glass beverage bottles
360 beverage cans
648 plastic plastic grocery bags
180 other plastic bags
10 paper bags
108 paper cups and plates
108 plastic cups and plates
72 foam cups and plates
5 fishing lines
180 cigarette lighters
1 tent
54 six pack holders
180 other plastic / foam packaging
5 other plastic bottles (oil, bleach, etc.)
180 cigarette wrappers
3 condoms
36 disposable diapers
1 car headlight housing
1 light fixture
10 foil baking pans
30 small pieces of glass
180 misc. plastic pieces

[click on image to enlarge]

2019 Clean Up Countdown: C U @ the C. U. tomorrow

Here’s today’s Hutch Fact:

Hutch Fact #8:

The old expression, “out of sight, out of mind,” applies to the Hutchinson River. It’s easily the most hidden waterway in the Bronx, if not the city. Many area residents are not even aware of the Hutch, never mind strangers. There are few paths where you have access to the river. Most paths are overgrown or in disrepair. Some are makeshift. In most places, fences, walls, and commercial and residential developments prevent access.

You can catch glimpses of the Hutch as you drive along the Hutchinson River Parkway or cross one of the six bridges that span the river in the Bronx, but access to the river from these locations would be illegal and dangerous. In Westchester, except for Lake Innisfree, which was developed for recreational uses, the Hutch flows through the backyards of private residences.

Because of this inaccessability, the Hutch has been subjected to all kinds of projects that have endangered life in and along it’s waters.

The dredging of the Hutch by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to turn it into a shipping channel in the late 19th century damaged and irrevocably changed the character and the ecosystems of the Hutch.

Storm and sewage conduits are continually spewing waste into the Hutch.

The commercial development of parts of the area — first, with Freedomland and then with Coop City — further compromised the Hutch.

The old Pelham landfill and dump (dubbed “Mt. Garbage” by some) on the West bank of the Hutch was used for decades by the Dept. of Sanitation until it was ordered closed in 1968. It was responsible for all types of toxic and noxious pollutants leeching into the Hutch and Eastchester Bay. These toxins were also responsible for many cases of leukemia and other diseases in nearby residents, particularly children. In 1967, the creation of the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary was signed into law to prevent any more parkland from being threatened.

Now the Hutch is being threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change, and by two man-made projects: a proposal by the USACE to build a sea gate across the mouth of the Hutch, which could destroy the salt marshes, and a plan by the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection to construct a water chlorination plant to deal with storm and sewage effluent. This could harm much of the aquatic life in the river, especially at a time when we’re just starting to revive it.

This where HRRP comes in. It’s our mission to educate the public about the Hutch’s history and importance as a vital ecosystem, to work with our communities to make the Hutch safe for recreation and nature, and to raise awareness and calls to action to prevent any further threats and damage.

Tomorrow, Sept. 15th 2019, we’ll be holding our 10th annual Clean Up of the Thomas Pell Sanctuary. It’s one of the most direct ways in which the public can help spread the message about this wonderous resource in our own backyard and keep it “In sight, in mind.”

#RestoreTheHutch

2019 Clean Up Countdown: 2 days to go

Here’s today’s Hutch Fact:

Hutch Fact #7:

Our HRRP Clean Ups are done in conjunction with the American Littoral Society and the Ocean Conservancy. We submit detailed reports to both groups after every clean up as a way to monitor the overall health of our waterways. The reports are divided into different categories of refuse we collect: Most Likely To Find Items, Fishing Gear, Packaging Materials, Other Trash, Personal Hygiene. There are also sections for: Items of Local Concern, Tiny Trash, and Dead /Injured Animals. The Ocean Conservancy Report has an additional space for “The Most Unusual Items Found.”

Last year we filled 79 large trash bags of refuse (in addition to large bulky items) collected from the different sites we visit and the area from which we launch. We separate what we’ve collected into recyclables and non-recyclable trash. You can see the complete reports under the Documents section of our website.

#RestoreTheHutch

 

2019 Clean Up Countdown: 3 Days to Go

Here’s today’s Hutch Fact:

Hutch Fact #6:

Although the Hutch has been called the dirtiest river in the Bronx, it teems with life and is slowly becoming cleaner and healthier. Walk along the banks of the river and you’ll still find mussels, oysters, and horeshoe and fiddler crabs in the shallow waters near the shoreline just as the native Lenape people (mistakenly called the Siwanoy) and the later Dutch and English settlers did, and depended upon. They were an important food source for both the human and animal inhabitants. We sometimes find fiddler crabs living in abandoned tires during our clean ups. Due to the efforts of local residents and groups like HRRP, the oyster  and mussel beds are beginning to thrive once again.

#RestoreTheHutch

2019 Clean Up Countdown: 4 Days to Go

Here’s today’s Hutch Fact:

© 2018 Nathan Kensinger for CURBED New York

Hutch Fact #5:

The Hutch serves as a commercial waterway for businesses and utilities around the Bronx / Westchester border. To bring commerce to the Hutch, at the request of businessmen in Mt. Vernon in 1895, the US Army Corps of Engineers, widened, straightened and dredged the river turning it into a ship canal. But by doing so, much of the surrounding ecosystems were harmed, with many native species dying off. Through the efforts of groups like HRRP, the river is slowly being restored.

#RestoreTheHutch

2019 Clean Up Countdown – 6 Days to Go

Hutch Fact #3:

Below the I-95 overpass, the Hutch flows alongside the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary (part of Pelham Bay Park) which includes 195 acres of salt marsh. Once considered, useless swamp land, we now know that salt marshes are vital in creating and maintaining the habitats of many species of flora and fauna.  Find out more by visiting the Pelham Bay Park pages of the NYC Parks Dept. website.

One Week Until the 2019 Hutch Clean Up

Here’s today’s Hutch Fact:
Hutch Fact #2:
Like the Bronx and Hudson Rivers, the Hutch is a tidal estuary. The fresh water from upstream meets with the salt water of the Long Island Sound right around the Bronx / Westchester border. The Hutch is affected by tide cycles and has very strong currents at this point. This determines when our clean ups are scheduled and where the clean up sites will be.
CU_2012_27

I-95 overpass spanning the Hutch. This is the Bronx / Westchester county line.

#RestoreTheHutch

8 Days Until Our 2019 Clean Up

Hey, everybody. Don’t forget: only 8 days until the 10th Annual HRRP Clean Up. If you’re going to help with the work, make sure to wear old clothes. We’ll supply gloves, shoe coverings, and trash bags. And even if you can’t help with the clean up, drop by anyway to learn more about the Hutchinson River and take in the scenic views of the Bronx’ hidden treasure.

As a lead up to our annual clean up on Sept. 15th, we’ll be posting some interesting facts about the Hutch each day: Hutch Facts.

Hutch Fact #1:
The Hutch begins its journey as a fresh water spring located in Scarsdale (center of pic).

#RestoreTheHutch

10th Annual Thomas Pell Sanctuary Clean Up

 

Students from SUNY Purchase at our 2018 Clean Up

The Hutchinson River Restoration project will be holding its 10th Annual Clean Up of the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary in Pelham Bay Park on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2018 from 9 AM — 3 PM.

The Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest salt marsh ecosystem in the Bronx and the second largest in NYC (the salt marsh in Jamaica Bay Park in Queens is the largest).

This annual event is a great way to:

  • learn about an important and crucial ecosystem right in our own backyard,
  • gather with friends and neighbors to support our community,
  • do your part in protecting the environment,
  • feel a sense of accomplishment and pride,
  • and have some good, clean(up) fun

Volunteers will assemble on the southwest corner of City Island Rd. and Shore Rd., Bronx, NY (across from the Pelham Bit Stables). The BX29 bus stops right there. Gloves, waterproof shoe coverings, and light refreshments will be provided.

Parking will be available in the Turtle Cove Driving Range parking area on City Island Rd.
For more information, call 718.885.9653
“Like” us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HutchinsonRRP
Follow us on Twitter: @Hutchinsonriver
Hashtag: #RestoreTheHutch
This project is supported by American Rivers, the American Littoral Society, and the Urban Park Rangers.

About Salt Marshes and the Thomas Pell Sanctuary*:

“Salt marshes play a critical role in the support of human life, acting as natural filtration systems by trapping pollutants that would otherwise contaminate our bays and oceans. Salt marshes have the ability to absorb fertilizers, improve water quality, and reduce erosion. They are also among the richest wildlife habitats.”

“The Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary and the Hunter Island Marine Zoology and Geology Sanctuary in the northeast Bronx consist of a total of 489 acres of marshes and forests within Pelham Bay Park. The City began landfill operations near this area on Tallapoosa Point in Pelham Bay Park in 1963. Plans to expand the landfills in Pelham Bay Park in 1966, which would have created the City’s second-largest refuse disposal site next to Fresh Kills in Staten Island, were met with widespread community opposition led by Councilmember Mario Merola, later Bronx District Attorney. This struggle resulted in the creation of the sanctuaries by a local law, signed by Mayor John V. Lindsay on October 11, 1967.”

“The Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary makes up the westerly part of Pelham Bay Park (2,764 acres). Included within its bounds are Goose Creek Marsh and the saltwater wetlands adjoining the Hutchinson River as well as Goose Island, Split Rock, and the oak-hickory forests bordering the Split Rock Golf Course. The area is home to a variety of wildlife including raccoon, egrets, hawks, and the occasional ibis or coyote. The Sanctuary is named for Thomas Pell, the first European to control the land. Pell signed a treaty with the Siwanoy, the Native American tribe that previously occupied this area, in 1654, marking the first time a Briton owned significant property near Dutch New Amsterdam.”

*courtesy of the NYC Parks Dept.

‘Sea-gate’ idea possible for Hutchinson River resiliency

[Patrick Rocchio interviewed members of HRRP for this article on the USACE plans for surge barriers, which was published just days after the article by Nathan Kensinger in Curbed New York. HRRP is getting the message out.]

THE U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS IS DEVELOPING PLANS AS PART OF A BROADER POST-SUPERSTORM SANDY RESILIENCY DESIGN PROJECT FOR NEW YORK HARBOR

‘Sea-gate’ idea possible for Hutchinson River resiliency

25-hutchriver-2019-06-21-bx01_s

Schneps Media / Patrick Rocchio

A group of advocates with the Hutchinson River Restoration Project are concerned about issues related to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers idea concerning a possible ‘sea gate’ on the Hutchinson River just north of where it meets Eastchester Bay (pictured here near Turtle Cove). So far, the wall is only part of a raft of ideas for resiliency.

Members of the Hutchinson River Restoration Project are concerned about a proposal to build a 20-foot-tall concrete wall with a sea gate along the Hutchinson River near where it meets Eastchester Bay, in the vicinity of the Pelham Bridge.

The group believes that such a structure could have a drastic impact on plants and wildlife.

The HRRP maintains the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary opposite Co-op City along the river, which is in what is known as a tidal estuary where saltwater from Eastchester Bay and freshwater from the river’s origin in Westchester co-mingle with one another.

The organization’s president, Eleanor Rae, said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at the possibility of the ‘sea gate’ and other concrete barriers along the river as part of a larger study of resiliency in both New York and New Jersey called the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study.

The study was commissioned after Hurricane Sandy to find resiliency solutions if another large superstorm hit the New York area.

Rae said that even though the completed study is expected in late 2019 or early 2020, and work on any recommended projects would be at least two to three years way, they are never the less vigilant because it remained unclear how such structures would affect ecology, plants and wildlife.

“I do think this is a terribly important issue for all of us,” said Rae, who said that members of her group attended a meeting on the project in April at Hostos College.

Even if a ‘sea gate’ was rarely closed for long periods of time, most in the group think it could have a major negative effect on the intermingling of water from both sources of the river, Rae and several other members said.

A barrier with a gate would be necessary, said Carl Lundgren, an HRRP member, because the Hutchinson River is an active waterway for commercial barges that deliver materials further up river.

Lundgren and Rae both want to ensure that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is aware that the Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the river and needs to be accommodated.

Matthew Umbro, HHRC vice president said that a structure so large, spanning hundreds of feet in width, would have a drastic impact on what is a rather unique ecosystem, especially since even more concrete walls could be constructed elsewhere along the river, according to draft proposals.

“Even the footprint on a project (this size) along the river would require clearing some of the forest and building on and through marshland,” said Umbro.

Umbro said HHRC supports natural solutions to the prevent flooding.

Paul Mankiewicz, a biologist from City Island, said that a combination of plants and marshes (natural barriers), along with seawalls, could stop water.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Michael Embrich, said these ideas are just concepts at this point.

The corps is currently in the process of culling options, and taking a look at the fiscal and environmental implications of proposals, before submitting a final report.

“We will be looking at and working with our partners to find engineering solutions, as we have done for hundreds of years,” said Embrich.

Any comments or questions can be addressed to nynjharbortribstudy@usace.army.mil

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter@patrickfrocchio.
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